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Posttraumatic Growth in Combat Veterans: The Roles of Mindfulness and Experiential Avoidance

Barbir, Lara. A and Hastings, Sarah L. and Cohn, Tracy J. and Pierce, Thomas W. Posttraumatic Growth in Combat Veterans: The Roles of Mindfulness and Experiential Avoidance. [Dissertation]

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Abstract

Combat veterans are at risk for developing a host of mental health concerns, especially posttraumatic stress disorder, a defining feature of which is experiential avoidance. However, positive psychological changes can also occur following combat exposure, referred to as posttraumatic growth (PTG). Evidence highlights that PTG serves as a protective factor, indicating the importance of expanding treatment opportunities to increase PTG among combat veterans. Recent research suggests that mindfulness enhances PTG, but the mechanism through which this occurs is not understood. The current study examined the impact of mindfulness and experiential avoidance on PTG, testing specifically whether experiential avoidance would mediate the relationship between mindfulness and PTG. Combat veterans (N = 94) were recruited via social media and online forums and completed questions about dispositional mindfulness, experiential avoidance, PTG, PTSD symptoms, and military and demographic information. Contrary to the hypothesis, experiential avoidance did not significantly mediate the relationship between mindfulness and PTG; however, experiential avoidance did emerge as a significant partial mediator of mindfulness and posttraumatic stress disorder. Simple regression analyses were conducted to further examine the relationships between facets of mindfulness and those of PTG. Mindfulness was a significant predictor of PTG, particularly when the Spiritual Change facet of PTG was removed from the analysis. Mindfulness significantly predicted New Possibilities, as well as Personal Strength facets of PTG. The Nonreactivity facet of mindfulness significantly predicted PTG, as well as all facets of PTG except Spiritual Change. The Observing facet of mindfulness significantly predicted New Possibilities. Finally, a simple regression analysis revealed that experiential avoidance was a significant predictor of Personal Strength. The findings of the present study point to the importance of targeting experiential avoidance in clinical interventions with combat veterans, to both reduce symptoms of PTSD and augment PTG specific to feelings of personal strength. Acceptance- and mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) such as acceptance and commitment therapy may be implemented to help target experiential avoidance to thereby alleviate PTSD symptomology; however, MBIs alone may facilitate PTG in combat veterans. Such interventions should be adapted to specifically target nonreactivity to inner experience as well as observing facets of mindfulness in order to best enhance PTG in combat veterans.

Item Type: Dissertation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Radford University > College of Graduate and Professional Studies
Depositing User: Lara A. Barbir
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2018 20:53
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2018 20:53
URI: http://wagner.radford.edu/id/eprint/387

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